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tv   CBS Evening News With Russ Mitchell  CBS  December 18, 2011 6:00pm-6:30pm PST

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>> mitchell: tonight out of iraq. after nearly nine years of war, the last u.s. combat troops across the border into kuwait. our jim axelrod traveled with the convoy. house speaker boehner changes course on the payroll tax cut battle. and house republicans rebel against the plan passed by the senate yesterday. whit johnson has details. more violent clashes in cairo as the egyptian military continues the crack down on civilian demonstrators. we'll get the latest from allen pizzey. and tebow time. the broncos' colorful, controversial quarterback is the talk of the nfl. tony guida takes a look at his memorable season. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with russ mitchell. >> mitchell: and good evening. it was a quiet end to a long, divisive and costly war.
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the last u.s. combat troops left iraq without incident today, leaving the country to continue its own course towards democracy. the american convoy left camp adder south of baghdad during the night bound for kuwait, and our jim axelrod traveled with them. >> reporter: for the first time in eight years, eight months and 28 days, the u.s. has no troops fighting in iraq tonight. the last convoy out of iraq rolled across the kuwaiti border at 7:37 local time this morning, capping a drawdown that saw the u.s. go from 50,000 troops in iraq as late as august to zero. >> i just wanted to say hello. >> reporter: the top u.s. general in iraq, lloyd austin, called the final drawdown, the military's largest, most complex logistical undertaking since world war ii. he stopped by with good wishes for the soldiers making up the final convoy as the military met its deadline of having all troops gone by december 31st. >> i'm very hopeful that things will continue to move in the
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right direction. it's going to take the iraqi government, the iraqi people to continue to make the right decisions, work together. [horn honking]. >> reporter: the officers who planned the last troop improvement had feared attacks from iranian-backed militias, but five-hour, 160-mile drive from camp adder, the last u.s. base the operate in iraq, to the border, went smoothly. the moment you crossed, can you take me through what your thoughts were? >> my thought was we made it and nobody in my platoon was a casualty. >> reporter: as they stood on the side of a road just inside kuwait, clearing their weapons of ammo, soldiers like specialist tristan mcdonough, a 24-year-old from tacoma, washington, began concentrating on their next task at hand, racing the calendar to get home for christmas. >> they're going to run across, give me a big old hug and i'll be home in time for my son's fourth birthday, my daughter's second birthday. it's going to be amazing.
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>> reporter: there were no casualties on this last convoy, which means the final number of american troops killed in action in iraq is 4,484. there are also more than 100,000 iraqis thought to have been killed from war-related violence. russ, one of the reasons this last convoy was so uneventful, the tremendous amount of air support supplied by the u.s. military uk more than 45 helicopters, fixed-wing, unmanned aircraft accompanied this last convoy to kuwait. >> mitchell: jim, so the americans put a lot of effort into handing over these bases to the iraqis. how is that effort going? >> reporter: well, you know, we were there on the last night. we were very impressed to watch the condition of the barrack, for instance. the american servicemen mopping it down as the last americans were leaving and telling us they wanted to leave it in pristine condition, maybe it would be that much easier for the iraqis to meet. then we were at the staging area where the last convoy was pulling out, and these iraqi military officers came in and
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started taking everything that wasn't nailed down, boots, d.v.d.s, tools. at one point one of them went for a television that was on the wall, and an american officer came in and there was this uncomfortable standoff, so the military officeers from iraq appeared more like looters than officers. it's going to be a very interesting transition there. russ? >> mitchell: jim axelrod in kuwait, thank you so much and take care, sir. and here is one more measure of the war's human toll: according to the tragedy assistance program for survivors, 8,74 americans have lost a son or daughter. 3,141 have lost a parent, and 2,468 have lost a husband or wife. on capitol hill, the battle over extending the payroll tax cut took an unexpected turn today with just two weeks to go before the current tax break expires. the top republican in the house switched signals, setting up another capitol hill cliffhanger. whittonson in washington has
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more. >> reporter: in a surprise move, house speaker john boehner rejected saturday's senate deal to extend the payroll tax holiday for two months. >> well, it's pretty clear that i and our members oppose the senate bill. it's only for two months. >> reporter: yesterday boehner supported the measure, but following a series of calls with house republicans, he changed his mind. he now insists any deal should last for a year. >> i believe that two months is just kicking the can down the road. the american people are tired of that. frankly i'm tired of it. >> reporter: yesterday a bipartisan majority of the senate voted to stop the payroll tax from going up on 160 million americans and extended long-term benefits for the unemployed. >> we had a duty to be here as senators. >> reporter: this afternoon, senate majority leader harry reid released a statement threatening that the senate, which is now on vacation, will stay on vacation, even if the house tries to change the bill.
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if speaker boehner refuses to vote on the bipartisan compromise that passed the senate with 89 votes, republicans will be forcing a $1,000 increasing on middle-class families. in the house, minority leader nancy pelosi wrote, "the only thing standing in the way of a middle-class tax cut is tea party republicans." there are several ways around the current impasse, but right now both sides are digging in their heels. if the house won't pass the bill and he senate won't come back, most americans will see their taxes go up come january 1st. whit johnson, cbs news, washington. >> mitchell: turning next to campaign 2012, the des moines register has endorsed mitt romney for the republican presidential nomination. with just 16 days to go before the iowa caucuses, the paper says in its sunday edition, "rebuilding the economy is the nation's top priority, and romney makes the best case among the republicans that he could do that." for more on that endorsement and the rest of the republican race, we turn to john dickerson from
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washington. john, good evening to you. >> reporter: good evening, russ. >> mitchell: how important is this endorsement? >> reporter: it's a nice piece of news, but iowa republican insiders say it won't change many minds. the des moines register doesn't have the sway among conservativetives that the union leader does in new hampshire, but the paper does frame the choice between the two republican front-runners. it talks about romney's stability and criticizes newt gingrich for his lack of discipline. the paper is the latest to raise those issues about gingrich. iowa's governor, a popular republican, wondered whether gingrich had the temperament for the job, as did the national review. by itself the des moines register endorsement may not mean much to romney, but it adds to a flood of doubt. >> mitchell: newt gingrich continues to catch flack for consulting work he did for freddie mac in which he received between $1.6 million and $1.8 million. the "wall street journal" accused gingrich of a lack of
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candor on the issue. gingrich talked about it on "face the nation." >> i think candidly we earned that editorial but not stopping and handling this from day one and laying it out. the facts are i didn't personally get that kind of money. it went to a consulting firm which had offices in three cities. the share i got was relatively small. >> mitchell: what do you think, john? is that answer enough to put this issue to rest or are there more problems to come on this? >> probably more to come. conservatives think freddie mac contributed to the economic downturn. they don't like the permanent establishment where politicians can profit from their service by helping special interests at the expense of the people. gingrich has been forceful in other answers has been mumble-mouth in explaining his role, and his campaign peaked just as the right time as voters were making their decision who to vote for. his challenge is to get this issue out of the way so he can make his final pitch to voters about why they should elect him. >> mitchell: john dickerson in washington, thanks a lot. >> thanks, russ. >> mitchell: online shoppers
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have been clicking away like crazy this holiday season. new numbers out tonight show sales are up 15% over last year to almost $31 billion. online sales passed $1 billion on four separate days last week. tributes are pouring in from around the world for vaclav havel, the czech playwright and political leader who died of respiratory problems at his weekend home earlier today. havel played a leading role in the so-called velvet revolution of 1989 that peacefully overthrew czechoslovakia's communist regime. after czechoslovakia's breakup, he served as president of the smaller czech republic until 2003. havel was nominated several times for the nobel peace prize and was awarded the presidential medal of freedom by george bush. havel was a colorful cultural icon and is widely remembered for once having shared the stage with late rock star frank zappa. he was also a notorious chain
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smoker who underwent lung cancer surgery in 1996. today president obama called havel "a friend to america and to all who strive for freedom and dignity, and his words will echo through the ages." vaclav havel was 75 years old. just ahead, egypt's army cracks down in a weekend of violence. >> mitchell: for a third day,
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pro bureaucracy protesters crashed with egyptian soldiers. this new round of violence has left at least ten dead. each side accuses the other of creating inistanbul. -- instability. allen pizzey reports. >> reporter: the protesters won't quit and the army is responding with increasing levels of violence. the third day of street fighting was combined to a barricade near the cabinet office. egyptian authorities are trying to turn the tables on the stone-throwing youth, depicting them as part of a conspiracy
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against egypt. but the frosty of the response by troops won't win the ruling generals much support. the worst was this attack, a young woman not only being beaten, but having her religious road pulled off so her bare midriff and underwear were exposed to the world. one soldier did try to restore a measure of dignity, but the video clip has already gone viral on social networking sites, and that kind of publicity is what spurred the protest on and on, even during the harshest crackdown. but many ordinary egyptians are getting fed up with the instability and the damage that has been done by the rioting. "who is the leader of those people who are devastating the country," yousef yousry asks. the violence has overshadowed the ongoing election process, the first democratic and free polling the country has nobody. the army-appointed prime minister appealed for time. until the end of january, kamal al-ganzouiri said, until the security is restored.
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that's when the multi-stage election will end. the chance for ballots to count for more than batons and stones. allen pizzey, cbs news, london. >> mitchell: thousands of russians protested again today in moscow and other cities after president dmitry medvedev said the "exhausted political system needs reform." the protesters denounced this month's parliamentary elections as fraudulent. ahead of a busy week of christmas demonstration, pope benedict went to a prison for hardens criminals today where he said overcrowding amounted to "a double sentence." the 84-year-old pope told inmates whatever their offense, the harsh conditions should not erase their dignity. ahead, the aftermath of the deadly philippine floods. that story is next. >> mitchell: in the
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philippines, more than 650 people are known dead on the southern island of mindano in flooding from a tropical storm. but almost 1,000 are missing and the devastation is staggering. lee cowan has more. >> reporter: the damage is on a scale few here have ever seen, and those suffering the most are the young and the old. hardest hit was the mountainous island of mindano, the second largest in the philippines. tropical storm washi brought a month's worth of rain in less than a day. so much the hillside and rivers could take no more. the ensuing flash floods and mudslides slammed into villages in the middle of the night. by dawn sunday, the toll was obvious. and this may be only a fraction of the carnage. many of the victims are believed to have been swept out to sea. the mayor of one of the island's
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larger cities said in some places the land had been stripped clean. >> it is the worst. everywhere you see spaces that had been before occupied with so many houses. now all of them have been wa away. >> for the dead, the immediate needs are body bags and coffins. for the living it's food, but most of all water. >> we have no water here. our water is... even the major establishments have problem in their water supply. >> reporter: predominantly roman catholic, families had been looking forward to christmas reunions. they are instead looking for missing relatives in a sea of despair. lee cowan, cbs news, los angeles. >> mitchell: to the south, a tragedy at sea, more than 200 people are feared dead after an overcrowded ship carrying illegal immigrants sank in rough seas this weekend off java, indonesia's main island. only a few dozen people have been rescued. most of the passengers were immigrants from the middle east
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trying to reach australia from indonesia. ahead, the military makes its case against accused intelligence leaker bradley manning. that story is next. >> mitchell: 19 months after
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he was arrested, army private bradley manning is the subject of a military hearing outside of washington. today was the third day of the proceedings to determine whether the former intelligence analyst should be courtmartialed on 22 counts, including aiding the enemy. elaine quijano reports. >> reporter: the military accuses army private bradley manning of leaking government secrets to web site wikileaks in
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2009 and 2010 while manning was a junior intelligence abletist in iraq. the release of some 250,000 documents was the biggest leak of classified information in u.s. history. it included iraq and afghanistan war logs and diplomatic cables. the material also included this military video of a 2007 american apache helicopter attack in iraq that killed 11 men. manning's defense attorneys have sought the paint him as a soldier who struggled with his homosexuality at a time when gays could not serve openly in the military and who asked superiors for help with gender identity issues. >> his defense at this point appears to hinge mostly on his emotional distress. he was apparently under substantial emotional distress at the time he was in the army and before even. >> a government witness, one of manning's command centers baghdad, testified that manning was known to have angry
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outbursts, including flipping a table and throwing a chair. the witness said based on his emotional turmoil, manning should have had his security clearance pulled. manning's case and his months of solitary confinement in a military brig have sparked protests, including right outside fort meade, maryland, where more than 100 people demonstrated to support him. >> it's unclear if he's the person who leaked information to wikileaks, but if he is, then i think he should be protected and appreciated as the whistle-blower. >> reporter: the obama administration maintains the leaked information poses a threat to national security and strange relations with other governments. if a preliminary hearing leads to a courtmartial, manning, who turned 24 on saturday, could face life in prison if convicted. elaine quijano, cbs news, new york. >> mitchell: ahead, quarterback tim tebow's winning record on the line.
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that story is next. >> mitchell: in texas they
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never saw it coming. take a look, an unmanned, runaway electric cart that sped across the field at cowboy stadium after a high school football game last night. the cart bowled over several people standing at mid-field, actually tumbling the winning coach into the passenger's seat. a worker was finally able to jump in and stop the cart. several people were injured. in denver, the hometown broncos battling to make the nfl playoffs for the first time in five years took on the formidable new england patriots today. but the broncos have their own big weapon, the arm, legs and face of remarkable young quarterback tim tebow. tony guida has more. >> reporter: tim tebow took the field this afternoon on the wings of an improbable winning streak and a prayer for it to continue. >> the biggest thing for us and our team is we continue to believe.
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>> tebow. >> faith or fate or opposition foulups have produced a mind-bending string of last-second victories since tebow took over at quarterback, a team maturing from curiosity into contender on the will of man of deep religious faith. tebow's routine general genuflen prayer has imitators everywhere. on long island recently, two high school football players were suspended for tebowing, as it's called, after some 40 classmates blocked a hallway. >> everyone should be happy they're following a good role model. >> thank you, jesus. >> tebow mania has reached that level of cultural saturation to merit a skit on nbc's "saturday night live" last night and a web site just two months old has taken tebowing worldwide. people everywhere posting pictures of themselves on one knee, in afghanistan, at the south pole, even underwater.
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>> tebow still has it. breaks the tackle. he's in for the touchdown. they had him for a loss. >> tebow gave the faithful an early gift, slipping free of what looked like a sure tack toll score the game's first touchdown, but his miracles ended there. tebow fumbled, his teammates did, too, repeatedly. the patriots capitalized on every mistake, building a fourth-quarter lead that even tebow's magic couldn't overcome. >> they have the touchdown with green-ellis. the. >> reporter: the broncos' drive to the playoffs stalled today, but tebow maniacs are keeping the faith. tony guida, cbs news, new york. >> mitchell: and this is the "cbs evening news." later on cbs, "60 minutes." thanks for joining us this sunday evening. i'm russ mitchell at the cbs broadcast center in new york. scott pelley will be here tomorrow. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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"there was just black i couldnt see 2 feet in front of me" . tonight, the bay area homecoming for soldiers. >> it was just black. i couldn't see 2 feet in front of me. a fiery bay area tonight. see how one man ran towards danger to try to save a life. it's not even a done deal, but just the possibility of a bike lane on the bay bridge already has a hefty price tag. cbs 5 eyewitness news is next.

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